The goals of the OpenStack initiative are to support interoperability between cloud services and allow businesses to build Amazon-like cloud services in their own data centers. OpenStack, which is freely available under the Apache 2.0 license, is often referred to in the media as "the Linux of the Cloud" and is compared to Eucalyptus and the Apache CloudStack project, two other open source cloud initiatives.
OpenStack has a modular architecture that currently has three components: compute, storage and image service.
- OpenStack Compute - a cloud computing fabric controller for provisioning and managing large networks of virtual machines (VMs).
- OpenStack Object Storage - a scalable storage system that provides support for both object storage and block storage.
- Image Service - a delivery service that provides discovery and registration for virtual disk images.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) worked with Rackspace, a managed hosting and cloud computing service provider, to develop OpenStack. RackSpace donated the code that powers its storage and content delivery service (Cloud Files) and production servers (Cloud Servers). NASA contributed the technology that powers Nebula, their high performance computing, networking and data storage cloud service that allows researchers to work with large scientific data sets.
OpenStack officially became an independent non-profit organization in September 2012. The OpenStack community, which is overseen by a board of directors, is comprised of many direct and indirect competitors, including IBM, Intel and VMware.